Do the Rangers next steps include finding a replacement for Ryan Strome?

Whether or not to sign Ryan Strome long-term has been a point of contention for many fans. On one end of the spectrum, Strome was a 20-goal, 65-point player this season. That comes on the heels of an 18-15-33 campaign in 63 games last season. On the other hand, Strome has never really had consistent history of producing this much, and there was concern if he was smoke and mirrors and a product of an unsustainable hot streak (last year) and then playing with Artemi Panarin (this year).

No matter where you sit on this spectrum, it doesn’t matter. Strome’s production is his production. Strome’s underlying stats are his underlying stats. They all play into a contract value. Luckily for us, the twins at Evolving-Hockey released their contract projections, and for Strome, they are a doozy.

Strome comes in at a long-term deal, eight years, and a $7.6 million cap hit. Suffice it to say, that is absurd, and a huge increase on his $3.1 million cap hit this season. It is worth noting that this does not represent Strome’s demands. It is just a projection of what he would likely earn on a long-term deal. This takes many factors into account, including the number of UFA years a team would be getting.

Before you get up in arms about the projection, Evolving-Hockey is rarely wrong. The Rangers specifically are pretty in sync with their projections. They do miss, but it’s not often and it’s usually based on term. This is based off years of projections. When it comes to getting a good free agency picture, they are the go-to.

To reiterate, this doesn’t reflect Strome’s demands. No one knows those right now. It simply reflects what Strome is likely to earn on a long-term deal. That’s over $1 million more than Chris Kreider, which again makes sense. Kreider is older and wasn’t on a 65-point pace. The scoring numbers don’t lie with Strome, and it shows up in the contract predictions.

While I’m sure the discussion will delve into whether or not Strome is worth it, that’s not necessarily the point of the post. Strome is likely on pace for more than the $5 million many have him pegged for, especially on a multi-year deal. The question for the Rangers is simple: Do they want to commit that much money and term to a guy who may or may not be a flash in the pan? It is a tremendous risk that can has a bigger likelihood of crashing and burning than paying off in spades.

Luckily for the Rangers, they don’t need to make a decision right away. Strome is a restricted free agent this summer. They can kick the can down the road one more season. For what it’s worth, here are the other contract lengths/terms they project out:

  • 1 year, $4.9 million (3% chance of happening)
  • 2 years, $5.08 million (4% chance of happening)
  • 3 years, $6 million (9%)
  • 4 years, $5.8 million (8%)
  • 5 years, $6 million (25%)
  • 6 years, $6.8 million (17%)
  • 7 years, $6.58 million (3%)
  • 8 years, $7.6 million (31%)

The top-three have Strome at a long-term deal and at least $6 million. This is one of Strome’s only chances for a payday, and with the chances of a lockout looming after next season, he’d be wise to cash in as soon as possible. It is also unlikely he continues to score at this pace, especially if someone like FIlip Chytil passes him on the depth chart.

For the Rangers, it’s about risk management. Is Strome, who is likely to slip to a 3C sooner rather than later, worth that kind of money? Even as a 2C, is $7.6 million worth it? These seem like easy answers, but sometimes things aren’t so easy.

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